Serum selenium and serum lipids in US adults

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;88(2):416-23. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/88.2.416.


Background: Selenium, an essential micronutrient, has received considerable attention for its antioxidant properties. In addition, selenium may affect several cardiometabolic risk factors, such as glucose homeostasis and lipid concentrations. However, the effects of selenium intake on the lipid profile in selenium-replete populations, such as the United States, are largely unknown.

Objective: We examined the relation of serum selenium concentrations with serum lipids in a representative sample of US adults.

Design: This was a cross-sectional analysis of 5452 men and women aged >/= 20 y participating in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. Serum selenium was measured by atomic absorption spectrometry.

Results: The multivariable adjusted differences in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B (apo B), and apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) comparing the highest with the lowest quartile of serum selenium were 16.6 mg/dL (95% CI: 11.6, 21.4 mg/dL), 10.9 mg/dL (95% CI: 6.4, 15.4 mg/dL), 3.2 mg/dL (95% CI: 1.6, 5.0 mg/dL), 8.9 mg/dL (95% CI: 5.6, 12.2 mg/dL), and 6.9 mg/dL (95% CI: 1.7, 12.1 mg/dL), respectively. Participants in the highest quartile of serum selenium had 10% higher concentrations of triacylglycerols than did participants in the lowest quartile (ratio of triacylglycerol concentrations: 1.10; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.17). The difference in the ratios of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol and apo B to apo A-I that compared the highest with the lowest selenium quartiles were 0.11 (95% CI: -0.02, 0.25) and 0.03 (95% CI: 0.00, 0.06), respectively.

Conclusion: Elevated serum selenium was associated with elevated serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triacylglycerols, apo B, and apo A-I among US adults, a selenium-replete population. Experimental studies are needed to determine cause and effect relations and the potential mechanisms underlying these associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic / methods
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • United States


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol
  • Selenium